Dementia Awareness – are you a Dementia Friend? - Reflection by Canon Mike
Read a reflection by Canon Mike, Canon Scientist of Liverpool Cathedral
Well this is different! This reflection may seem a contrast to those I’ve written before – but in a sense it isn’t really. It was so lovely on Sunday, at our first public service in so many months, to welcome such loving and familiar faces back into the cathedral – even through the masks and visors! Some very kindly mentioned how they have enjoyed our reflections – noting how much of ourselves we have each shared personally. It has been and will continue to be, our pleasure – as we share our thoughts and reflections on God’s love around us.
Our pattern of reflections is now changing slightly – the frequency is slightly less, as the cathedral is now more open; but our digital presence is now enhanced with the provision of live streaming of morning and evening prayer. And, as clergy, we are acutely aware of the need to still be here, online, for many people who may still be shielding at home, may still find it riskier to step out because of other conditions or treatments; or continue to feel anxious and worried about the whole situation. Well, we are still here for you, through both our websites; www.prayerforliverpool.org and Liverpool Cathedral.
But today’s reflection is still personal – something close to my heart in terms of encouraging others to be more aware of. The subject of Dementia – something which can be, for both patients and carers, hugely challenging, hugely isolating – perhaps like Robin Hood’s tree in the photo above. It’s something which may touch our lives or those of loved ones, just as much as cancer – my main profession. Therefore, a greater Dementia Awareness is something we might all benefit from. So, this is the first in a series of short articles I planned to write, before the lockdown, as your Canon Scientist; a series bringing to our attention various aspects of healthcare – some you may be familiar with, some perhaps not.
Dementia (in its various forms) is a condition all too familiar to many – we may ourselves be touched by it. Learning about it, being aware and helping those who are affected, is something we all should do….as Christians, or people of other faiths or even as good society members, it is something we are called to do in loving our neighbour.
One way is to become a Dementia Friend, to learn more about it, how it affects us as individuals and communities. Raising awareness and understanding in ourselves is key to helping those with it. A Dementia Friend is someone who has learnt more about it and looks to take action (however big or small) to help and be on the lookout for ways to improve the way we serve, those who may have dementia. Simply wearing a Dementia Friends badge can be that action, raise that awareness.
Within the cathedral we would like all of us - staff, volunteers, clergy, musicians, congregation members….in fact the whole Cathedral community, to become more aware and become a Dementia Friend, if you aren’t already.
Dementia Friends itself is an official initiative of the Alzheimer’s Society – one of the foremost bodies helping individuals with Dementia and funding research into the disease….research which keeps on pushing forward the boundaries of our knowledge about the problem. There are of course many other excellent bodies also set-up to do this work – we need as much research as possible.
The normal route to becoming a Dementia Friend is through reading information and watching videos on their website; and then attending a short face-to-face session with a Dementia Champion. When I was a hospital chaplain in Chester, I attended such a session and the person running it was utterly inspiring…someone who knew first hand of the issues. But, one surprisingly good effect of the present situation is that now you can become a Dementia Friend by attending sessions completely online. I’ve listed below some of the many online resources available to help become more aware of dementia and how it can affect us all, and to become a friend.
I’m looking to become a Dementia Friends Champion, based at the cathedral, as part of our Diocesan Rule of Life (https://www.ruleoflife.org.uk/), as part of my role as your Canon Scientist. That I might pray more about this disease and those who suffer from it; read and learn more about it. So that through my faith I might be able to tell others about it, and thereby serve others – especially those who suffer from it and give of myself in so doing. As part of this, I’d like, through all of our prayers and efforts, to register Liverpool Cathedral as a Dementia Friendly Organisation – so improving the welcome and naturally the encounter for all coming to the cathedral. It is part of our service, part of our Christian love.
Thanks very much for allowing me to share this with you and I do hope you’ll be able to find time to engage with this material online, perhaps learning something new for yourself, or refreshing your knowledge. Maybe you are already a Dementia Friend, as I am sure a number of you are; in which case thank you, and keep up the great work! If you are a member of staff or volunteer, do please let your line manager know when you become a Friend, or if you are one already.
Please also feel free to tell me how you get on; perhaps as a Dementia Friend you have experiences you wish to share from your own story, or have experiences with friends and family…..please share them with me. What are your experiences especially through this lockdown period and the pandemic? Your thoughts and comments will always be welcome.
With my love and prayers, as always; stay safe…
Canon Mike 😊
Main Dementia Friends Website:
Online resources – video (5 min) and Online sessions (45 min)
Dementia Friends Information Sessions – all online
Become a Dementia Friend Online
While you're here:
Why not prepare for next Sunday's worship? Our preparation sheet for adults and for children can be accessed by clicking on the Resources tab of our prayer blog, Prayer for Liverpool: https://www.prayerforliverpool.org/prayer-resources.html.